Should You Switch from Aweber or MailChimp to ConvertKit?

Ever since I publicly switched email providers from MailChimp (my first love–you never forget your first love) to ConvertKit last fall, people have been asking me if they should switch too.

The answer is complicated, so I wanted to lay down my thoughts in a thorough review of ConvertKit and provide a sort of self-assessment for deciding if it’s a good move for you too.

Should you switch from MailChimp or Aweber to ConvertKit?

Why I Switched from MailChimp to ConvertKit

I was a MailChimp customer for almost 7 years. I knew after the first year or so that I had outgrown them. It wasn’t that the service was bad–it’s phenomenal–it’s that what I wanted to do with email marketing couldn’t be done on MailChimp. The main feature I was lacking was advanced segmentation (the ability to send people the best content or offers for them based on their interests). 

The other feature I was missing out on was easily being able to send out multiple opt-in incentives while maintaining a nice, neat list. 

As the years went by, MailChimp added more and more features and more and more integrations (mostly Zapier and LeadPages) that allowed me to cobble together most of the functions I was looking for.

However, this just left my account even more bloated and unwieldy.

But the biggest problem of all was that I was avoiding emailing people because I was afraid that I could segment them properly so that they would only receive the email that was meant for them.

That meant money left on the table. 

Nathan Barry, the founder of ConvertKit, phoned me up in September 2015. We chatted about the product, what they were working on next, and why it might be a good fit for a lot of my clients. He wasn’t trying to sell me. He just wanted me to mention ConvertKit when I talked about email marketing in classes and workshops.

But I was sold.

It was time to move on from MailChimp and I just didn’t want the hassle of a solution like InfusionSoft or Ontraport.

As I mentioned, the biggest reason I switched was the ability to send the right people the right email. It’s that simple.

What I Love About ConvertKit

Tagging in ConvertKitConvertKit makes highly targeted email easy. 

The inside of my account is set up with no less than 43 different tags. Each tag tells me something about the people associated with it. I can mix and match those tags and create email that is specially formatted just for the people I’m writing to.

Another reason I love ConvertKit is just how easy it is to create Sequences. Sequences (or courses, autoresponders, or automated email) can be trigger by just about anything that happens in the system. It can set a new subscriber down a Welcome sequence, a new purchaser down an On-boarding sequence, or an old subscriber down a Free Course sequence.

Based on a subscribers activity in one sequence, I can move them on to another.

The possibilities are endless.

I also love the simplicity of the emails I’m sending. My goal is to be your business mentor-from-afar in your inbox a few times a week.

Would your mentor send you a color HTML email? I doubt it. They’d pen something simple, easy-to-read, and personal. ConvertKit makes that really easy.

Email screen shot via ConvertKit

Why You Shouldn’t Switch to ConvertKit

Now, just because I’m into ConvertKit and recommending it to many doesn’t mean that you should switch. Here’s a few reasons why you shouldn’t.

1. You want an all-in-one solution. 

If you want an all-in-one solution that hosts content, takes payments, manages affiliates, etc… you should switch to something like InfusionSoft. Yes, it’s going to be a lot of work. Yes, you’re going to pay a lot for it. But it’s worth it if your business is such that having this type of solution is going to make your life easier and add to your bottom line.

Our main ecommerce tool is WooCommerce and I have an affiliate management plugin that works well with it. While seamlessness is awesome, it’s not always practical and I’m happy with the balance we’ve achieved in terms of integration and customization.

2. You want to send pretty emails. 

There are lots ($$$) of reasons to send plain-text or simple rich-text emails. There are also lots of reasons to send HTML emails. 

If you want to send something with lots of images, a banner/logo, and columns, you’ll need to stick with a provider like MailChimp. It can be done with ConvertKit but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Just keep in mind that lots of email is read on a phone or other mobile device. My emails may not be as “pretty” as they used to be but I know more people who start reading them will read to the bottom. That’s important.

3. You’re not willing to commitment to a tagging strategy. 

When I switched to ConvertKit, I tried to take my email taxonomy (such as it was) from MailChimp and transfer it over. That was a disaster. Luckily, one of my team members is a whiz with logic puzzles like this. She took what I wanted to be able to do with email and what we knew about individual subscribers and created the tagging taxonomy you see above.

Yours doesn’t need to be as complicated but, if you’re not willing to devote energy to figuring out a tagging system and then commit to using it successfully, don’t switch to a provider like ConvertKit.

This might be the biggest hurdle of all. However, you have to ask yourself whether you’re really committed to email marketing if you’re not willing to commit to figuring this piece out.

What’s Next for Your Email Marketing

In the end, whether you switch to Convertkit from MailChimp or Aweber or whether you choose something else entirely, the decision shouldn’t be based on where your business is at now.

You have to look ahead to what you’d like to be able to do with your email marketing, how you’d like to be able to communicate with customers, and how you’d like to prospect for new leads in the future. 

The longer it takes you to switch to the solution that meets more of your needs, the harder that switch will be (trust me, I know!). 

ConvertKit is probably the right choice for you if:

  • You want to be able to send the right messages and offers to the right people.
  • You want to start or accelerate automating your best messages so that sales start happening on their own.
  • You want to on-board new customers easily and with minimal effort.
  • You want to prioritize simplicity and clarity in your communications.
  • You want to use multiple email opt-in incentives to grow your audience and track your progress.

If that sounds like you, click here to give ConvertKit a try.

(That’s my affiliate link–if you’d prefer I didn’t get compensated for providing this information to you, click here for the non-affiliate link.)


Ambition as Self-Expression: A Conversation With Danielle LaPorte


“Our priorities don’t fluctuate; they’re always the same. I as a human being, woman, person need to be self-expressing or else I’ll die.”
— Danielle LaPorte

Danielle LaPorte is a writer, thinker, and soul strategist. She mixes personal development with spirituality and business. Her life and ambition revolve around self-expression, which she hones as a skill.

I’ve had the privilege of speaking with Danielle many times. Each time, I come away with a sort of burning in my chest.

Danielle fuels my ambition. Not blind ambition, but grounded, purposeful, meaningful ambition.

When I sat down for my interview with Danielle for the latest episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit., I was prepared again to burn. I was not disappointed.

First, we discussed how Danielle prioritizes her rapidly expanding business. She’s added tattoo, jewelry, and candle collections to her personal development product line over the last 2 years.

Her priorities are simple. Everything revolves around self-expression first and foremost. Then, she prioritizes impeccability. Finally, she prioritizes visibility—or grow the freaking list!

Danielle and I also talked about the many different ways she’s published her work: self-publishing, digital publishing, hybrid publishing, and traditional publishing. Each revealed a different form of self-expression she called herself to.

We also discussed how her team has grown—and the “blue sky” team she’s building to work on secret side projects. Wouldn’t you love to have one of those?!

If you’re ready for that on-purpose, grounded burn of ambition too, click here to listen to my interview with Danielle on iTunes.

If you’re loving the podcast, we’d love your rating and review on iTunes, too!

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Focus drives results. Take the free quiz!

A Natural Evolution: How Social Media Marketing Expert Laura Roeder Became a Startup Founder

Laura Roeder, founder of Edgar, on Profit. Power. Pursuit. with Tara Gentile

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I first met Laura Roeder—the latest guest on the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast—at the inaugural World Domination Summit. Of course, she’d been someone I knew “from the internet” since the start of my business. Meeting people in the flesh is different.

She stopped me on the street and asked to chat. We joined some friends of mine at an outdoor cafe table and enjoyed sangria and cheese. We also enjoyed great conversation about running and growing businesses in the online world.

Laura was truly one of the first people I ever spoke to whose interest in regards to business was much more about profit, power, and pursuit than it was about passion.

Over the next 5 years, I watched her business evolve from social media management to social media training to social media software. Her latest venture, Edgar, is a software application that allows marketers to more effectively and efficiently schedule their social media updates.

I use this tool myself and have seen amazing results simply by using its most basic features.

Of course, you can go anywhere to learn more about social media marketing. I hope you come here to learn the behind-the-scenes story of what makes a business like Laura’s really work.

Laura Roeder, founder of Edgar, on Profit. Power. Pursuit. with Tara Gentile

Laura and I talked about how to know when it’s time to change your business model, the role money plays in decision-making and planning, why she chose to turn down millions in venture capital for her startup, and how she manages to grow her team.

Pay close attention to what Laura has to say about personal investment and risk when it comes to growing your business.

Click here to listen to my interview with Laura Roeder, founder & CEO of Edgar, on iTunes.

If you enjoy the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast, please subscribe to future episodes and leave us a review!


Tara:  Hey, everyone.  Welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit.  I’m Tara Gentile, your host, and together with CreativeLive, we explore the unique strategies that creative entrepreneurs use to take control of their lives, profit from their passions, and pursue what’s truly important to them.

Today’s guest is Edgar founder, Lara Roeder.  At 22 years old, she quit her first and last job as a designer at an ad agency to start her own business.  She quickly grew a tiny, but thriving, one-woman design firm.  On a quest for scale, Laura ventured into training and information marketing and then into software as a service.  Laura and I talked about the evolution of her business, the value of a great team, and how she intentionally avoided millions in venture capital to build her software business.

Laura Roeder, welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit.  Thanks so much for joining me.

Laura:  Thank you.  I’m really excited to be here.

Tara:  Awesome.  So your business has changed a lot over the years, and it’s been a lot of fun watching the changes that you make.  You’ve gone from web design to high touch social media management, to social media training, and now you’re into social media software as a service.  How do you know when it’s time to make a change in your business?

Laura:  So this is … This is a really good question, you know.  I was telling Tara, I looked over at the questions you sent, and I really had to think about them, and this is one of those that I really thought about, because it seems very natural at the time.  You know, so I could of thought, okay, let me … Let me reverse engineer how I have made these changes, because they feel like they just sort of evolve, and I think really for me it’s been a matter of having a vision for what’s next.  It’s not so much a larger strategic plan or a this isn’t working anymore, I need to switch.  Although this isn’t working anymore can definitely be an element of it, but it’s usually more that I get inspired for something that I want to create next, and then I see how I can make my business into that, and that’s what I’ve done.

Tara:  Nice.  Where do you find that inspiration?  Because I think it is helpful to say that it’s more about kind of creating that vision, but I think a lot of people actually get stuck on creating that vision, because they don’t know where to find that inspiration.

Laura:  So for me, it’s really been a combination of my own needs in business and customers.  So I’m an entrepreneur.  I love entrepreneurs.  All the businesses that I’ve had, that’s who I’ve served, and for example, Edgar just came out of really my own need.  I had some frustrations with social media software out there that I wanted to solve and something that I loved about social media is just how tightly connected you stay with your audience.  You know, it’s just so easy to go on Facebook and instantly be having a one on one conversation with someone who is your customer or who is your fan or whatever, so it’s really been a combination of solving problems that I want to solve for my own business, and also just kind of looking around and seeing what are other people’s frustrations, what are they talking about, what are they trying to do that they’re not able to do, that sort of thing.

Tara:  Yeah, I think a lot of people try and keep their eyes on their own homework, and I think keeping your eyes on your own homework can actually kind of stifle that … stifle innovation or stifle your ability to figure out what’s next.

Laura:  Yeah, you want to look at yourself, but not just yourself.

Tara:  Right.  So you and I have talked a lot about team over the last few years, and I’m curious, what does your team look like right now?

Laura:  So now my business is totally focused on Edgar.  We’ve been phasing out the training business.  So we have a team of 13 now, and that’s made up of engineers who are building the product, customer service people, a little bit of operations, and a marketing team.  We actually have two full-time writers, which is pretty unusual for a team our size, and I think just shows you how focused on unmarketing and content marketing we are.

Tara:  Yeah, how do you go about finding new team members?

Laura:  It’s difficult.  We’re really, really, really picky, and it’s really important that someone is as strong in skill as they are in culture, so actually, our biggest mistake that we made, when we were sort of evaluating like what went well in the first half of 2015, the hugest mistake that we made is not giving ourselves enough time to hire, because we found that it often takes, depending on the roll, from two to like six months.

Tara:  Wow.

Laura:  Which is kind of crazy, to find the right person.  So now we try to put out job listings a lot early.  I’ve read a lot of things that say, you know, you have to be recruiting, the best people already have jobs, and they’re not going to find job listings.  I haven’t done that.  I don’t know where people find the time to do all this recruiting.  It sounds really good, but we just don’t have time for it.  So we have used traditional job boards.  We’re a remote company, so boards like We Work Remotely have been great for us or Authentic Jobs has a lot of remote jobs on it, so we just put our listings into typical job boards like that, but we try to use a lot of personality in our listing to show you what it might be like to work here just from reading the job listing, and I think that helps a lot in attracting the right people.

Tara:  Yeah, and another thing that I’ve really admired about the way you’ve built your team or the way you manage your team is how objective you are about looking at people’s performance, about looking at what your goals are, about looking at how people work within the team.  What is it do you think that has allowed you to kind of maintain that objectivity and use that as a management technique?

Laura: So something that we say a lot at Edgar is, “Value for value.”  The phrase is something that our head of customer service, Christina, kind of coined. She’s always like, “Value for value.  Value for value.”  And that means that everything has to be an even exchange of value.  So when we are looking to add a tool to our arsenal, we’re saying, “Okay, they’re going to charge us $100 a month.  Here’s what we’re going to get.  Do we feel good about that value?”  And we use that phrase a lot when we talk about anything in our business.  I was just talking to someone about a freelancer that we’ve hired, and we’re like, “Do we feel there’s value for value?  Do we feel like we’re getting the value for what we’re paying them?”  And I view team members as the same way, you know?  They’re people that are working here to contribute value to Edgar.  That’s why they’re here working or us, and that doesn’t mean, you know, I think a lot of people get sort of confused in a team world because they start thinking about their value as a human.

Tara:  Mmhmm.

Laura:  You know, their value is a human is totally different than the value they add to the Edgar team.  You know, those two really have nothing to do with each other.  I mean, one, all humans are valuable, but you can be a really amazing person, but you know, one, just maybe not have the skills that we need for our team.  So I think that’s where a lot of people get really tripped up is thinking, oh, I don’t want to, you know, I don’t want to let them go because I really like them, or maybe there’s a way to make them work, or whatever, because you like them as people.  I’ve remained on good terms with everyone that I’ve ever let go, and there’s a few on that list, because I am objective, and we do let people go when they’re not working out.  But there’s no one that I’ve ever burned a bridge with.  I’ve helped people find other jobs, and when you’re just looking at it from that value for value perspective, you see where they could add more value to another company, where you’re not serving them by sticking them in a job that’s not really working out for them.  So I think that helps me look at the whole situation.

Tara:  Yeah, and I think it actually probably helps you maintain that friendship and treat people as humans when you are able to be objective about their role on your team.

Laura:  Right.  You’re not saying you have failed in life, you know.  You’re saying we have this need and it doesn’t seem like you’re the right person to meet it, so go find another job that you can really thrive in.

Tara:  Yeah.  I love that.  What systems do you use for managing your team?  Is it software? Is it a particular management technique?  What do you use?

Laura:  Yeah, so this is … This is something we’ve been exploring a lot because we’re getting to that point where we’re getting bigger, but we’re still small enough that we can all stay in touch, and we’ve really struggled with like do we need to put in more systems to have that good framework for when we grow, or are we sometimes overcomplicating things and making things more bureaucratic then they need to be now, so this is definitely something that’s been on my mind a lot lately.

As far as just logistical tools, we use, you know, the same things that a lot of virtual companies use.  We use Slack.  We use Gmail for our email.  For task management, some of use Trello and some of us use Flow, but I think the tools are less important than the style of communication.  So the way that we manage people, we’re really huge on everyone having ownership over what they do, so our team leads we call advocates.  So we call them that because they’re not necessarily the boss of that team, but they’re the person who advocates for that team within the company.  So our customer service advocate is fighting both for her team to make sure they’re happy and just for the role of customer service in the company.  She’s advocating to make sure our customers are served.  You know, marketing is advocating to make that we’re spending enough time and resources on marketing.  So we see those team leads as the advocate for their area, and then each person within the team has total ownership over whatever their tasks are.  So Tom, who writes our blog, the blog is his.  He decides the topics, he writes it, you know, he does the schedule, he makes decisions on how the blog’s going to look and what features it’s going to have, whatever.  The blog is his.  So that’s how we run things.

Tara:  I love the idea of your team leads being called advocates, and I am totally going to be stealing that, so if my team is listening, that is going to be coming down the pike.  I really, really love that.  So let’s shift gears a little bit and talk about money, because that’s one of the things that I’m really trying to demystify with this podcast.  Can you tell me, what’s the role that money plays in the way you plan for your business, especially when it comes to changes in your product or changes in your business model as a whole?

Laura:  So we are a bootstrapped/self-funded, I think self-funded at Edgar is a little more accurate, because we’ve used the profits of the training business to help start up Edgar, but either way, we don’t have capital, and so money is really, really important in planning because everything we do needs to be, not only does it need to be profitable, it needs to be profitable in the short term.  You know, we don’t have this like year or five years of runway to play with, so we are very, very money focused in that is everything that we’re doing adding value that will turn into real dollars of revenue for the company, right?  The company can’t survive without revenue.  So I think that helps us be really focused in so many areas, you know, when we’re thinking about how we want to take the product.  It’s very important to us not to add any features that aren’t going to get us more customers.  You know, unless it’s something that’s really, really important to our customers, it’s a waste of developer time.  So I … I actually … And it makes financial planning really simple, because the bottom line is are we in the black every month.  If we’re in the black every month, we can … there’s no way we can wake up one day and be out of money.  We can maybe not have so much, so much profit, but we’ll never have to worry about this longer term, more complex financial planning.  And that might not be the most sophisticated way to do it, but it’s the simplest way to do it, and we’re very happy with that right now.

Tara:  Yeah, absolutely.  Simple is awesome.  So you mentioned that you are self-funded at this point, that Edgar is self-funded, and you recently wrote about not accepting venture capital to build Edgar.  Can you tell me more about your thought process behind, and basically intentionally avoiding potentially millions of dollars in venture capital?

Laura:  Yeah, it’s a really multi-faceted issue.  One of the biggest things that I was really trying to avoid in not raising money is this kind of raise or die cycle, where instead of being focused on building your product or being focused on your customers, you’re focused on raising money, because that’s kind of the business model that you’ve built for yourself is you raise and you run out and you raise and you run out, and you have to spend so much of your time chasing that fundraising, and that just didn’t sound fun to me.  It sounds fun to me to talk to customers and find out what they want and find out what they love and hate about Edgar.  That’s how I’d rather spend my time.  So that’s part of it.  Having the freedom and flexibility is a huge part of it.  So I had a baby earlier this year.  I took three months off maternity leave, totally off work, I’m working part time now, and my husband is the CTO of Edgar, so he runs, he’s our, you know, Dev Advocate, and he works part time also, and I just don’t know how many funded companies are cool with like the CTO and the CEO both working part time.  It’s not always their first choice.  So I really wanted to have that freedom, that flexibility, and then as I explore more, I’m also … As we grow and we get, I guess, more on the same page as a lot of funded companies, because now we’re almost at $2 million annual revenue, so we’re kind of, you know, a lot of the companies we’re sort of comparing ourselves to do have funding, there’s all these little interesting little things that emerge.  Like when you need to keep raising money, your growth rates have to always look really, really good.  So people do things like have free plans and just grow the free plan as big as possible, because it’s much easier to get users for free, and that keeps their growth numbers up.  Where we’ve done a lot of experimentation with our marketing funnel.

We recently did an experiment that did not work out well, so we had a down month, and if we had just been focusing on keeping that growth number looking good, we would actually be much more risk averse, because we wouldn’t be able to take a big gamble like this totally changing our marketing funnel.  We took the gamble, we had a bad month, but now we can fix it, it doesn’t really matter to us what our numbers look like month to month, as long as, you know, we’re doing well overall.  So that’s been really interesting.  I think there are lots of little implications to having your board or having that next round be one of the big stakeholders in your business.

Tara:  Yeah, I really appreciate that you pointed out the difference in priority between your company and one that is venture funded, because I don’t think a lot of people realize that the priority of a venture funded company is growth above all else and growth for the purpose of then raising more money later on, and that it’s not about making money at all.  It’s about making potential money much later on.  And I … And you know, then with your priorities being serving your customers, making the product better for those customers, and generating revenue, and so I think when most people, then, kind of weigh what they want out of their businesses, most people end up on that self-funded track, or they should be on that self-funded track, even if it’s not as glamorous as potentially building a unicorn.

Laura:  Right.  Because, I think for most people, it’s much more motivating to please a customer than it is to please a VC guy.  You know?  I love that our product helps entrepreneurs.  It helps them make their life easier.  It helps them save time.  That motivates me to grow this company.  For me, it would be a little difficult to get the motivation from I can’t wait to pitch this next guy who’s going to really love the idea and is already a billionaire.  Like who cares?

Tara:  Totally.  All right.  So you mentioned that a couple of months ago, you experimented with a change in your marketing funnel that failed.  Are you willing to tell us what that experiment was about?

Laura:  Yeah, it’s really interesting, actually.  So most SAAS companies start their marketing funnel with a free trial.  So you go to the software website, that’s the call-to-action on the home page, start your free trial.  So we had done our funnel differently, but we wanted to try the free trial thing, because we thought, well, if that’s what everyone does, and there’s so much that’s been written about it, there’s probably some merit to this idea.  So we changed our homepage to start off with a free trial, and we’re still experimenting with this as something to play with in our funnel, but there was one extremely clear result, which is the top of the funnel, meaning just the number of people who started with us, gave us their email address, absolutely tanked compared to our old call to action, which was request an invitation.

Tara:  Mmm.

Laura:  We used to have request an invitation, and then you’d get like put in our queue basically, and you’d get access to the software, and so many people would complain about that.  People would be like, “Why do I have to get an invitation?  I just want to buy.  Just let me do a trial.  You know, why are you making it difficult for me?”  But just coming to the site, so many more people were percentage wise were willing to request an invitation over start a trial.  And that makes sense when you think about it, because you have to commit time to start a trial.  You know, you’re not… You’re not always at the point when you’re exploring your options, and I’m ready to sit down and start a trial with a software, but requesting an invitation?  Sure.  You know?  I can do that.  No skin off my back.  I don’t have to do anything.  You’re going to remind me at some point to try you out.  So it kind of makes sense to me that it was lower, but I did not expect it to be so much lower, and it’s just all the more fascinating to me that so many companies I think never experiment with this.  They just assume start with a trial, that’s what everyone else does.  But it’s not the best option for every piece of software. 

Tara:  I just had a huge aha moment.  So that was very exciting.  So thank you for sharing that.  All right, let’s shift gears on money a little bit and talk about a different, sort of a different side of money.  You’ve written in the past about the big, scary check that you wrote to sign up for a program of Marie Forleo’s very early on in your business, and I think that many people, women and creatives especially, have a lot of fear when it comes to investing in their businesses.  How do you know, how do you, Laura Roeder, know when it’s time to dip into a nest egg, a credit card, a personal loan to accomplish something new in your business?

Laura:  It’s a really, really hard question, because I have to be honest, but a lot of it is definitely intuitive of feeling like this is the time. So that is part of it.  I know that’s not super, super helpful, though.  So I would say the more helpful part is just you need to have some sort of idea how this is going to work and how this is going to pay off, and I think early on, you’re often not sure exactly what that’s going to look like, but where people go awry is if you want to invest in something and you don’t really understand how it’s going to apply to you, but you’re just like I just want it and it’s just going to make things better, that’s kind of a red flag that maybe you’re getting hyped up, maybe you’re getting too excited about this being some sort of magical fix, because you need to see how it’s going to directly apply to you.  So basically what I’m saying is you need to have a problem you’re honing in on.  So if you are struggling with your business, you’re not getting enough leads, and you’re like, you know what, I hear all this stuff about email marketing, I don’t really get what it is, I don’t really get what it can do for me, it might make sense for you to invest in service or training to learn about email marketing.  Because you can see, okay, you know what, I know that’s a marketing channel, I know it can help my business, I’m not sure exactly even what that outcome’s going to look like, but I can guess that if I knew more about email marketing, I can see enough examples of how that’s going to do something to grow my business.  Whereas if you’re like this person is offering some business coaching, you’re like, I don’t really know what the problem is that I want to solve with them, I just know that my business like isn’t great and I want it to be better in some way.  That’s often not a great investment, because you’re not clear on what you’re going to get out of it.

Tara:  Yeah.  So this is an interesting issue, because I think often, people are focused on the wrong problems.  They attribute, you know, failure in their business or stagnation in their business to the wrong things.  So how do you figure out which is the right problem to be focusing on at any given time?

Laura:  That’s such a great point.  I actually think that is one of the great skills of entrepreneurship and everyone needs to continually hone is solving the correct problem.  It’s like one of those absolute top level skills, and I think about it all the time in the work that I do every day.  Like is this really the problem that we need to solve.  You know, we actually just we got an intern at the company, so we have this list for her, and when I’m looking through the list of what she should do first, I’m definitely thinking about this.  Like, okay, she could do that, but is that really, you know, the active, most important problem in the business now, and the way that you look at it, I mean, this is where looking at numbers is really important.  So looking at just your overall flow of you know leads to sales and then ongoing customers, so that doesn’t have to be anything too fancy, so if you have an online business, it’s just like, okay, how much traffic am I getting, how many leads am I getting out of that traffic, which usually means email addresses, how many customers, and then maybe, you know, if it applies to your business, maybe how many follow-up, repeat customers are ongoing customers.  So once you break down those numbers, you can kind of start to guess, looking at those different conversion rates, okay, out of my traffic, I have .03% becoming leads.  Okay, I’ve read some articles online, I’ve seen a few numbers thrown around, that sounds sort of low compared to what I’ve seen thrown around.  So maybe that’s a good place to improve my business, and a lot of it’s guesswork, right?  Because unfortunately, there’s not this, I wish there was just this index of like this is what you can expect in your business, you know?  Try to hit this number.  Which, of course, we’re all different, so it doesn’t exist, but looking at some of those numbers is really helpful in honing in on where the problem is, and also getting really specific and writing out what’s actually working and what’s not working, because we often have these sort of vague ideas.

Tara:  Mmhmm.

Laura:  Often based on how we spend our time, by the way, and not actually what the outcomes are.  So maybe like you do webinars every week, and you’re like, “I am killing it with these weekly webinars.  These are great.”  But you’ve never actually sat down and been like how many customers do I get out of these webinars?  You know, you just, you just had the idea that they’re, that they’re great, because people tell you they like them and you like doing them and whatever.  So just getting a little more specific with your numbers.  Where exactly are my customers coming from?  Which channels are working?  Which are not working?  I think that’s how you start to hone in on that problem.

Tara: Yeah, I’m so glad that you brought that up, because that is … That’s something I actually hear people get defensive about often is, well, I’m not going to try that because what I’m doing works for me.  Like, well, really?  Do you know?  Have you compared it?  Have you tested it against something?  So that’s really great.  So kind of the theme that I see us honing in on ourselves right now is risk, and entrepreneurship is all about risk.  We’ve talked about risk I think in every single interview I’ve done so far.  So can you tell me a time that you’ve taken a big risk and how that played out for you?

Laura:  Yeah, I mean, I’ve taken so many risks.  So starting Edgar was, which was a huge risk.  So I launched Edgar in 2014.  I had never done software before.  I’m not a software developer.  I’ve never, you know, worked for a software company in any capacity.  So in some ways, like, once you run a business, you certainly have more knowledge about how to do it than people who haven’t, and there’s a lot of base knowledge there, but there also is even more than I expected software specific stuff that you have to learn about how to make a great product, you know, user interface, user onboarding, and when I had the idea for Edgar, I knew that I would use it.  I always thought, okay, worst case scenario, I will use this in my own company.  Even if no one else wants it, I’ll have a huge leg up in social media.  But you know, I thought other people would want it as well, and to invest the time and money in creating Edgar, which was along the same lines as what I’d done before, right?  It’s social media marketing software, but as a whole new business model was definitely very risky, but I was just … I was just really excited about the idea, and I think that was such a huge motivator for me is really wanting to both use myself and show people what I had built.  Just that idea of like people are going to love this.  This is going to be really, really cool, and this is something that I want to see in the world, and really helped me get past all the uncertainty, because there was … I didn’t do like any kind of focus groups or user testing, or you know, make like the fake beta and show people and see what they think.  Like any of the sort of like lean startup stuff that you’re suppose to do.  I didn’t do any of it.

Tara:  Wow.  That’s incredible.

Laura:  You’re like, “That’s the most horrible idea.  Good thing that worked out for you.”

Tara:  Oh, no, it’s just not what I would have expected from you at all, so that’s really, really interesting.  Yeah.  So one thing that I was thinking about in regards to what’s really interesting about interviewing you about Edgar, and actually, maybe before I go on to ask that question, could you tell us specifically what Edgar is, because it is not like really anything else that’s out there on the market, and I say that as a user.

Laura:  Yeah.  So Edgar is a social media scheduling and automation tool.  What’s really different about Edgar that is different from every other tool out there is that Edgar stores a library of all your updates, and then he, we like to call Edgar “he” because it sounds nicer than it, he sends out all those updates, cycling through them over and over again. So with other tools, you create your schedule or you create your queue of content, but it always runs out.  You always have to add more and more.  So the idea behind Edgar is you create this core library of great content and refine it and improve it and repeat it.  So when you use Edgar, he handles scheduling of your social accounts automatically every day.  You don’t have to go in and schedule everything yourself, and it’s a real game changer for our customers, because, I mean, actually, the thing that we get that’s so funny is people are like, “I don’t know if I should tell you this, but I fired someone who used to run social media for me.  I feel sort of bad about it, but you know, I just pay you, and it’s a lot cheaper.”

So it saves a lot of time, and we see massive gains in the traffic that people see from social media, not because we do anything magical, but just because if you’re sending out links to your previous blog posts on autopilot every day, you’re going to have a lot more links on social than you used to just sort of trying to remember to do it yourself, so you’re going to see a lot more traffic.

Tara:  Yeah, I have definitely seen a lot more traffic, and we don’t need to turn this into a plug, but I’ve seen a lot more traffic.  I think it really, absolutely solved a problem for content creators like me and like so many other people out there.

So the question that I was going to ask before I had you talk about that was that I think with a lot of people that we have on, they are more traditional creatives or there’s a very kind of purpose driven, mission driven element to their businesses, and you’ve kind of hinted at the purpose or the mission behind your business, but it’s not as overt as it is in many other business, and so I’m kind of wondering if you could enlighten us as to what you are really trying to pursue through your business?

Laura:  Yeah, that’s an interesting question, because I definitely am different in that way.  I’m someone who loves business.  I don’t actually consider myself a creative.  I just am in that sense of like, oh, your creativity is entrepreneurship, which I know people say genuinely, but that’s just never really resonated with me.  So, and it’s interesting, because this is something that I’ve thought about and actually have sort of felt bad about myself about, because I think, oh, I should be doing some, you know, business that like serves the world more.  But the fact is, I think I would actually be happy, like if you gave me a dry cleaner to run, I would be like I’m going to kill it with the systems of this dry cleaner, and I would really enjoy it, because I love running a business, and so I extra love running a business that helps business.

Tara:  Mmhmm.

Laura:  You know, that’s the part that’s exciting to me about Edgar in particular is that, you know, we save people time, we save people money.  We help them do more of whatever it is they’re creating.  So I kind of see myself as the business … Like I love the idea of me being sort of the more businessy side helping people handle that side so they can go out and do whatever they love to do, and like not have to be on social media all day.

Tara:  Yeah, I mean, the tool itself is all about getting more of other people’s ideas out into the world, right?  And how could that be a bad thing, I think?

Laura:  Yeah, yeah.  And I actually, recently, I’m an executive producer of a TV show now called Eastsiders, which you can watch on Vimeo, go check it out.  And I actually went to their premier party two nights ago, and that was really cool for me, because I’ve always had this dream of maybe like being able to be the business side of a creative venture.  You know, letting people like my friend Kit, who creates TV shows and films and media that I think is really important and needs to be out in the world, I can support him by being like view as that boring business side, is the side that’s fun for me.  So I would definitely like to explore that more.

Tara:  Okay, so you have to tell me, how did that come about?

Laura:  So I live in LA, so I just like know all these people that do all this cool creative stuff.  I mean, that’s one of my favorite things about LA, is people are just always like, “Oh, yeah, and I’m making a movie this weekend if you want to come by.”  Or this afternoon, I’m going to a friend’s photoshoot that she’s just like doing for fun, because it’s a fun creative thing.  I’m like I’ll come bring my baby and hang out.  Okay.

So yeah, I kind of became friends with this group of people that were all actors in Silver Lake and East LA, and Kit Williamson is the writer, creator, star of the show, and it’s called Eastsiders, and it’s just a show about gay men and their friends and families that live in Silver Lake, live on the Eastside, and it’s just like one of those just very human relationship shows, and he made the first season.  He funded it on Kickstarter, he got it on Logo, which is a major TV channel that bought it, so it was very successful.  So I told him, you know, if you ever do another season, I want to be a part of it, because I just really love what you’ve created.  So now it’s real.

Tara:  That is fantastic, and I am so excited to hear you doing that.  I think that’s, yeah, I don’t know what more to say about that.  I think it’s super cool.

So at the very beginning of the interview, you kind of, you said that, you know, you’ve made the changes in your business over the years based on, you know, your vision for what’s next.  So what would you say is your vision for what’s next now?  Even if it doesn’t involve necessarily a change in your business.

Laura:  It’s actually a really difficult question.  You know, I don’t have any sort of overarching plan for my career.  It’s very step-by-step, so right now, the vision is just growing Edgar and reaching more people.  You know, right now, we have about 3000 customers.  Getting to 10,000 customers is really exciting.

Tara:  Mmhmm.

Laura:  And it’s exciting because like we said, those are real people.  You know, all of our Edgar customers are real people.  We just did a survey.  70% of our customers own the business.

Tara:  Wow.

Laura:  So these are really small business.  These are businesses that are so small, the owner is setting up the social media themselves, and what’s so cool about that is that I know that we have a massive impact, you know?  If you’re a one-person business, like, we’re really saving you a lot of time, and they’re people who self-identify as entrepreneurs, which you know, I just love.  So that’s why growing is exciting to me.  One, I get to solve these new challenges within the business of like what does it look like when your team has twenty people, and how do you need to change the structures, and how do you manage that, and how do you hire.  So those challenges are fun for me, and just the idea of being able to help so many people grow their business is really motivating, too.

Tara:  Awesome.  Well, Laura, where can we find you online?

Laura:  Yeah, so you can find Edgar at, MeetEdgar on Twitter and on Facebook, and you can find me @LKR on Twitter.

Tara:  All right, Laura Roeder, thank you so much for joining me.

Laura:  Thank you.

Tara:  On our next episode, we speak to Danielle LaPorte, creator of the Desire Map, and author of the Firestarter sessions about developing physical products from her ideas and paying attention to what you’re fantasizing about as the key to success.

That’s it for this week’s episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit.  You can download other episodes of this podcast and subscribe in the iTunes store.  If you enjoy what you heard, we appreciate your reviews and recommendations, because they help us reach as many emerging entrepreneurs as possible.  Our theme song was written by Daniel Peterson, who also edited this episode.  Our audio engineer was Jaime Blake.  This episode was produced by Elizabeth Madariaga.  You can catch up on older episodes in the iTunes store, where new episodes are added every week, and you can learn more by going to

It’s Not About Doing the Work, It’s About Clearing the Next Obstacle

Imagine this scenario: you’re working at a large, busy bookstore. Every day, people pick up books and put them back. Sort of. They never quite end up in the same place and “alphabetical by author” quickly descends into loosely-managed chaos.

Your task today is re-alphabetizing the Fiction & Literature section. It’s a task that takes several hours on a good day.

You set about the job and find satisfaction in not just arranging the books but in also carefully “flushing” the books (pulling them to flush along the edge of the shelf). Each shelf you complete has a certain beauty to it.

An hour into it, you look back over your shoulder. All the work you’ve just completed has been mangled by customers trying to locate the books they want!

You’re frustrated. You “complete” the job. But is it really done if customers have gone and messed it up already? Your satisfaction has dissolved into frustration.

When I was a manager for Borders Books & Music, managing this task (and many like it) was an important part of my job. It was easy to assign people a section of books and tell them to get to it. What was extremely difficult was managing the discontentment that would grow among every single employee as they realized just how futile their work was.

Once I became a business owner and a coach, I realized just how endemic this problem is. It’s not confined to odd retail jobs; it’s not confined to bookstores and libraries; it’s a universal adult experience.

It's not about doing the work; it's about clearing the next obstacle.

In school, we have certain expectations and benchmarks. You complete your homework, or you don’t. You take the test, or you don’t. You finish the school year, or you don’t. You do what you’re supposed to do and you advance to the next grade. Everything is clear cut, and the consequences of not doing what you’re supposed to be doing are fairly severe.

But in work or our businesses, your actions are rarely tied to clear consequences or benchmarks. You show up, do work that’s assigned to you, and go home. Most of the time, you don’t know how that work is impacting the bottom line or progress towards bigger goals.

Discontentment grows.

You lose faith and focus.

Your growth stagnates.

This is a serious problem.

In all the reader and customer research we’ve done this year (and it’s a lot), this problem has presented itself.

You’ve told us that you don’t know how the work you’re doing today will get you where you want to go.

You’ve told us that, because you lack focus on a particular goal, it makes it difficult for you to decide what’s next.

You’ve told us that there are so many things demanding your attention that you don’t know how to prioritize.

You’ve told us that you understand a lot of things in theory but that you have trouble when it comes to applying things because there’s just so much to do.

Yes, that’s a recipe for frustration. And, it’s also a recipe for the stagnation that leads to throwing in the towel.

The last thing I want for you is to throw in the towel on your business. I want your ideas to find a bigger audience. I want you to up-level your revenue and earning. I want your customers to experience everything you have to offer.

But you’re not going to get there operating the way you have been operating.

So what gives? How did I approach managing expectations and employee satisfaction when faced with endless tasks at a bookstore? How do I approach my own un-ending to-do list and make real progress on my business?

The key is creating benchmarks that allow you to say, “I’m done.”

It sounds simple and it is. But you don’t do it.

You say “I’m going to work on building my course” instead of “I’m going to complete Module 3 by Friday.” You say “I’m going to post more to social media” instead of “I’m going to post 5 times a day to 2 networks, 5 days a week.”

It’s the difference between telling yourself you’re going to train to run some far off race and actually counting the hurdles you clear, one after another.

What’s more: you don’t tie these ineffective action plans to things you really want. Why are you going to complete Module 3 by Friday? Because you’re aiming at a $25k revenue goal on that course that you’re launching in March. Why are you going to post 5 times a day? Because you’re growing your influence by attracting 50% more followers.

The mindset shift you need to make here is that it’s not about doing the work; it’s about overcoming the next obstacle.

You’re the kind of person who wants to see results, know you accomplished something, and raise the bar of excellence. When you’re feeling productive, satisfied, and fulfilled, you’re not just showing up, you’re leaping over hurdles.

What you see in front of you right now is work, not hurdles.

If you want to up your level of satisfaction and intensify your focus, transform your work into hurdles.

The moment you change each task or goal into an obstacle to overcome, you will accomplish more, feel a greater sense of satisfaction, and make measurable progress towards your greater vision.

You’re a problem-solver and a barrier breaker. This is in your wheelhouse.

Here are guidelines for turning your work into hurdles:

1) Start with what you’re working towards overall. Give it a number (dollars, team members, members, etc…). At Quiet Power Strategy™, we call this your Chief Initiative.

2) Then list the projects you’re currently working on to achieve this overall goal. Make sure each is either quantifiable (again: dollars, pitches, subscribers, etc…) or time-bound (has an “by” date).

3) Next, list growth actions for each project. Consider the specific things that need to be done to accomplish each project. None of these actions should begin with “start,” “continue,” “work on,” or any other word that connotes continuation and not completion. If you can’t finish the action in the time given, break it down further.

4) Finally, start tracking your progress. Each and every week, review your Chief Initiative, projects, and growth actions. Take note what of you’ve completed and what standards of action you’ve met. Mark down your progress on the metrics that are important to your goal (subscribers, dollars, members, etc…). Make a plan for the week that takes into account what worked previously and what new things you want to try to create more momentum.

If you follow these 4 steps, I guarantee you’ll make meaningful progress in your business and feel closer to your goals than you ever have before. Your sense of discontentment will start to wain and your sense of fulfillment will grow.

Now, I know most people reading this will not take these actions. Will you?

Don’t Be Cheap: Megan Auman on the Investment Mindset

With all the talk about how cheap it is to start a business today, it seems like that old adage “you have to spend money to make money” has gone the way of the fax machine. And, it’s true that you can put up a website and offer your product or service for next to nothing.

Yet, it’s also true that once you get started you realize the copious amount of ways you could be spending money: a designer, a virtual assistant, a trade show, an advertising account, a coach, etc… Even the little subscriptions add up fast.

Tara Gentile interviews Megan Auman on the investment mindset

I know many creative and idea-driven business owners who decry the expenses associated with running their businesses. But it seems successful business owners figure out how to not only become comfortable spending money to make money but become excited at the prospect of investing in themselves.

Running a Business With an Investment Mindset

Megan Auman, designer, educator, and metalsmith, is one of those successful creative business owners. I’ve always been impressed with Megan’s investment mindset and her ability to quickly make decisions about spending money (and even using debt) in order to further the goals of her business.

Megan has never been attracted to doing things the cheap way. She’d rather get results and get them fast by making investments in quality tools, materials, and opportunities.

When you listen to my interview with Megan Auman, take special note of all of the factors that go into making an investment decision. Spending money is fun—but it has to be smart, too.

Click here to listen on iTunes. Don’t forget to subscribe & leave us a review! Thanks!

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5 Resolutions to Bring About Your Next Business Breakthrough

Why do some businesses seem to “tip” over and over again while others never quite seem to break through? I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure that out. 

Often their businesses look identical on the outside. Many times, the difference boils down to a misunderstanding about what’s going on beneath the surface and how they engineer the success they achieve. 

You can’t possibly hope to recreate a business’s success by recreating what you see at the surface level. You’ve got to dig in and figure out what else is happening.

In this post, I’d like to reveal some of the actions that are causing big business breakthroughs for the entrepreneurs you’re admiring and how you can apply them for yourself as New Business Year’s resolutions—now, or anytime throughout the year. 

If you’re trying to engineer a tipping point or breakthrough in your business right now, you’re not alone. It probably goes without saying, but everyone I work with is in that situation: they’re ready for change. They’re tipping from part-time to full-time, one-to-one sales to leveraged sales, paying the bills to creating wealth, going at it alone to growing a team, moving from one business model to another to generate exponentially more revenue.

They each tell me, “I know what got me here won’t get me where I want to go.” And, I wholeheartedly agree.

What tipping point are you at? What breakthrough do you want to engineer for your business in the next year? Maybe you’re ready to break through to a new revenue threshold. You’re ready to hire a new team member. You’re ready to expand operations or roll out new offers. You’ve got growth on your mind and you’re busy putting the pieces into place to make that happen.

Here’s what is going on behind-the-scenes of the businesses that are constantly making it happen. What can you incorporate into your next plan?  

  5 Resolutions to Bring About Your Next Business Breakthrough

1.) Put boots on the ground and find new customers.

It might seem like your next revenue breakthrough is just a traffic-building tactic away. You’re probably regularly on the look out for new ways to get more eyeballs on your blog posts, Facebook page, or sales letters. Maybe you’re looking at running Facebook ads, or the finer points of JV webinars, or constantly building new welcome gifts to entice people to your email list.

But the most effective community builders and salespeople know that nothing beats putting boots on the ground to find new customers. Literally. They’re at conferences, hosting events, picking up the phone, and meeting with prospects.

It might be slow going but the results are staggering. These people land bigger gigs, sign better contracts, and create strong relationships with influencers that put them in front of hundreds or thousands of more customers in the end.

2.) Set prices based on goals and hard data.

Sales solves most business problems. Except, when it doesn’t. Sales can’t get you to your next business breakthrough if the prices of your products or services just make things worse every time you sell something.

Breakthrough business owners use hard data to set their prices. And, they set prices based on what they want, instead of what they have.

How do they do it? They figure out how much it costs to run the business they want (not the one they have) and they figure out how much it costs to live the life they want (not the one they have).

Then they break it down. How much can they reasonably sell? What does that knowledge lead to in terms of price points? Where do those price points lead you in terms of positioning? To have a big breakthrough, you need to think of price as a way to reach all of your goals—not just revenue.

Price tells a story that can position your brand, woo the right customers, and lead to big life changes.

3.) Decide to spend more.

I’m all for finding the leanest, meanest way to make your business run. But I’m so tired of hearing business owners always looking for a free solution to their problems.

You see, free solutions have a cost. Every time someone dials your conference line and hears, “Service provided by Free Conference Call,” they make a judgement about your business. Every time you can’t use an important feature of an app because you’re not paying for it, it costs you effectiveness and functionality. 

You’ll never hit a breakthrough that makes you feel comfortable spending more. It’s a decision you make that you are worth it, your customers are worth it, and your business is worth it. This kind of worth doesn’t come from revenue—it comes from intense focus on what the vision of what you’re creating.

4) Don’t try so hard.

Business breakthroughs rarely come from working harder. In fact, working harder can make your breakthrough far more difficult to achieve. Why? Because innovation doesn’t come from working harder, it comes from creative constraints.

Whenever you feel yourself pushing to make something happen, take a step back and reevaluate. What’s really going on?

  • Is there a skill you’ve avoided learning?
  • Do you need help from someone more experienced?
  • Is your current business model holding you back from earning more?
  • Is there a fatal flaw in your plan?
  • Are you avoiding the temporary discomfort of growth by relying on what you know (working harder)?

If working harder is your usual MO, put new constraints in place by answering these questions. Give yourself a limited number of clients to reach your revenue goal (price accordingly). Learn a new skill (stop spinning your wheels). Connect with a mentor (stop trying to figure it out yourself).

5) Take advantage of a solid support network.

Stop trying to grow your business in isolation. Stop waiting for others to catch up. Stop cultivating relationships that feel safe. There is no more pressing time to break out of your comfort zone than when it comes to building your support network.

You need to connect with people who intimidate you, use different methods, and work in different industries. You need people in your corner who are making things happen at the same—or faster—pace as you are. Sometimes, you need to pay money to establish these relationships quickly. That’s okay.

Other times, you need to make serious investments of time. That’s okay, too. Relationship-building has a cost. But the return on investment is incredible.

Stop waiting for people to come to you and start building a network that catapults your business forward. No matter how you choose to set resolutions (or not) for the new year, integrate these ideas and watch them transform your business.

Now, I’d like to hear from you. What’s your big business goal for the next 12 months? Click here and tell me—and please be specific!